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CO Lawmakers to Consider Electoral College Workaround

Lawmakers will hear a bill that would tie Colorado's nine electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote in presidential elections. (Razihusin/iStockphoto)
Lawmakers will hear a bill that would tie Colorado's nine electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote in presidential elections. (Razihusin/iStockphoto)
February 15, 2017

DENVER – A Colorado Senate committee considers a bill today that would ensure all of Colorado's nine votes in the Electoral College go to the presidential candidate who wins the national popular vote - even if that candidate did not win a majority of ballots cast in Colorado.

The elections director with Colorado Common Cause, Elizabeth Steele, says states that tend to always vote red or blue are passed over by campaigns, and tying electoral votes to the popular vote would force candidates to reach out to all voters, not just those in swing states.

"It would ensure that the person who gets the most votes wins the election," she said. "So, it will hopefully encourage people to go out and vote because their vote actually matters, whereas today, that's not necessarily true."

Critics have called Senate Bill 99 a knee-jerk reaction to recent Republican victories. But in 2000, George W. Bush lost by just over a half-million votes nationally, and in 2016 - despite his claims to the contrary - Donald Trump lost by nearly three million votes. Both won the presidency by securing a majority of votes in the Electoral College.

Steele argues the National Popular Vote initiative is a bipartisan effort. It has the support of the nonpartisan League of Women Voters since 2010, a group that has opposed the Electoral College since 1970.

Steele adds as a so-called "purple" state, Colorado has been in a position to swing elections, but that may not always be the case.

"It's not just about 'what's the situation today' with being a battleground state," she added. "It really is a question of 'what's the best reflection of democracy?' One person, one vote, in every state, and it counts for the presidency."

If Senate Bill 99 passes, Colorado would join ten other states and the District of Columbia that have signed onto the National Popular Vote Agreement. The agreement can take effect only when it's enacted by enough states to collectively control a majority of the total number of electoral votes.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO